■ Editor’s Note: This is the final in a 10-part series looking back at the biggest athletic stories at Wiley College during the 2018-19 school year.
No. 1: Wildcats win first NAIA Tournament game in 49 years
Nearly have a century had passed that the men’s basketball team at Wiley College had won a game in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I tournament but that streak came to an end this past march when the Wildcats defeated the University of the Cumberlands of Kentucky in a 68-56 final. The last time the program won a tournament game was in 1970.
“That was a great moment,” said Jay Smith, who coached the Wildcats for the past two seasons. “One thing we talked about when I took over that role was not just getting to the national tournament at Wiley but getting there and sticking up there for a little while. So for that group to have the season they had and to be able to go up there and win that game and to be the first to do so in 49 years, that was real fitting for all that we accomplished that season.”
Smith, who left Wiley after two seasons and headed for New Orleans to coach NCAA Division I basketball, said the accomplishments of the Wildcats was due to a team effort all around.
“I just want to give my thanks to all the kids in the program, all the managers, all the assistant coaches because us being able to do that was definitely a total team effort, from our athletic director and our athletic staff, all the way to our managers.”